New large military chopper debuts at CPC centenary event with CPC flag
Published: Jul 01, 2021 08:00 AM
Photo: Li Hao/GT

Photo: Li Hao/GT

A new type of large military transport helicopter, dubbed by military observers as the Z-8L, made its debut by hanging a flag of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and leading the aerial performance during CPC centenary celebrations on Thursday.

Having a body wider than any other domestically developed helicopter, the Z-8L can significantly boost the frontline transport and fast-reaction combat capability of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), experts said.

Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Spearheading the aerial performance formations at the event marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC in Beijing on Thursday, a Z-8L flew past the Tiananmen Square hanging a CPC flag, with two Z-10 attack helicopters flying in the same formation. Four more Z-8Ls followed in a second formation.

This is the first time the Z-8L has made a public flight performance. Before this, the helicopter was caught on camera by aviation photographers and was briefly featured in a media report in 2020.

Domestically developed and based on the original Z-8 helicopter, the Z-8L filled up a missing piece in the PLA arsenal thanks to its heavier weight and larger internal space, analysts said.

The Z-8L has a wider body, so it can accommodate an all-terrain assault vehicle within its cabin in addition to combat personnel, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday.

This means a significant increase to the PLA's frontline transport and fast-reaction combat capability, Song said.

The Z-8L is the PLA's first 15-ton class helicopter, Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine reported. By comparison, the original Z-8 belongs to the 13-ton class, and another new PLA helicopter, the Z-20, belongs to the 10-ton class.

Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Thursday that the Z-8L was developed based on the needs of the PLA in future combat.

Aviation forces of not only the Army, but also of the Navy and Air Force, could use the new helicopter for heavy lifting, Fu said.

The Z-8L could join amphibious assault missions by operating on the PLA Navy's Type 075 amphibious assault ships, analysts said.